LOS ANGELES — After watching his team fall just short of victory Sunday afternoon, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn't immediately lament what went wrong in a 36-31 loss to the Rams. Instead, Carroll came away optimistic about what the game showed him about his team and what it can do moving forward.
"This may not seem like what you'd think I would say right here, but I really loved that football game today," Carroll said to open his postgame press conference. "It was hard, it was tough, you're ahead, you're behind, you're battling, you catch up, you go ahead again, you just keep fighting."
After a back-and-forth game in which neither team ever led by more than a score for three-plus quarters, the Rams took a 12-point lead late after Russell Wilson fumbled while getting sacked, setting up a 9-yard Rams touchdown run. But even down two scores late, Wilson and the Seahawks offense rallied to score one touchdown, then drove as far as the Rams' 35-yard line before turning it over on downs, resulting in a tough 36-31 loss that dropped Seattle's record to 4-5.
"That kind of fighting, that kind of battling, it will take you a long ways," Carroll said. "We don't care where we go or who we're playing, it doesn't matter. We're battling."
Of course the Rams deserve plenty of credit for how they played, especially on offense—they're 9-1 for a reason—but in the way the Seahawks battled, and in their ability to rush for 273 yards minus their starting running back and starting right guard, Carroll saw a team capable of doing some really good things down the stretch.
"That's a good football team over there, they do great stuff, they're having a great run of it right now," Carroll said. "They deserve a ton of credit, Sean (McVay) is doing a fantastic job, but on this day today, we pretty much went nose-to-nose and battled it out. Congratulations to those guys, but I love these guys, the way they went out and played was awesome. And we ain't slowing down. We're going to keep going, keep running the football, keep setting the tempo and keep playing, and just trying play a little bit cleaner, trying to slow them down a little bit more, and give ourselves a chance to win."
Of course, taking positives out of a loss only matters if the Seahawks build off of this and finish strong—as middle linebacker Bobby Wagner put it, "I'm not a moral victory guy, so a loss is a loss." But in their ability to again push what is arguably the best team in the NFL to the brink, the Seahawks saw enough to believe that they have what it takes to finish the season strong.
"I definitely believe we can turn this around," Wagner said. "We've got a very tough schedule, it's going to show what we're made of, and we've got to get right back at it, we've got a Thursday night game. It's one of those times where it's good to get back out there and kind of wash away this loss.
"We feel like we're a lot better than our record shows, but there's some plays that got away from us that cost us games. There's still a lot of football left, and we're confident we can pull it out."
Sunday's loss was the second straight for Seattle in which a late comeback came up short, and it's something that has happened in losses earlier this season, including the Rams' win in Seattle last month. That's not something veterans on this team are used to after years of seeing the Seahawks pull out late victories, and it's a trend they plan on changing over the final seven games.
"It sucks," Wagner said. "I've been here for a while now, and we've had a lot of games where we've pulled it out, so to be on the opposite side, it sucks. But I have confidence that we can flip that around. There's a lot of football left, each game is a game of growth, and it only matters if we apply that to the next game."
Wilson, who threw for 176 yards and three touchdowns and had a season-high 92 rushing yards, also sees a team capable of winning a lot of games the rest of the way.
"The best thing about our football team right now is the drive, the focus," said Wilson, who finished with a 123.2 passer rating. "We're very, very young, but we're very talented. Great things are in store, great things are going to happen, and the best is still ahead."
At 4-5, the Seahawks don't have much margin for error the rest of the way if they're going to be a playoff team, but they like their chances because nobody in that locker room felt like they're playing like a 4-5 team.
Asked if he felt like the Seahawks are playing better than their record, Carroll said, "I really do, I really do. I've been feeling that since we got going about Week 4. We started finding ourselves and figuring what we're all about, how we can play this game. I love the way we're playing it… There wasn't anybody on the field who didn't bust their ass today, everybody did, and that's a tribute to everybody that's working in this program, how they fight regardless of the circumstances. We'll go anywhere and play anybody."
That wasn't the case after two games in which the Seahawks failed to get their running game going and were disjointed on offense in back-to-back road losses to the Broncos and Bears.
"We weren't even close to playing the way we can play," Carroll said of those first two games. "So we've just got to stay alive, we've got to keep going. There's a lot of games coming up at home, we've got to make a surge here and see what we can do. And I like our chances. I don't care who it is or where it is, it doesn't matter. These guys don't care about playing on the road, it doesn't matter at all, and that's a great characteristic of a team that has a chance to do something.
"We have a bunch of stuff ahead of us. We've got a lot of games at home coming up, we've got all kinds of opportunities. We've got to bring this thing together a little bit tighter, we've got to do the things that we've been doing. But the fight that we've shown, the competitiveness that we're all about, it's going to give us chance to do something really special if we keep hanging, if we keep believing. That's the messaging. There's no negative here, there's no negative coming out of this thing. There's always opportunities to do better, and we've got to figure out how to capture those, but that's not the essence. The essence is hanging and believing and knowing we can get this done, and seeing the truth of who we are. I can't wait for another week to get this thing going."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' 36-31 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 10 of the 2018 NFL season.